American full-sized station wagons were dispatched from the new car lineup in 1996. Once chariots of choice to transport occupants and massive trundle-style suitcases to train stations, the three-row beauties were discarded in favor of a multi-brand brigade of sport utility vehicles.
Thankfully, wagons still abound, with cargo space still relevant. It’s now part of the versatile vehicles’ three-part attraction that also includes sportiness and performance. The updated 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge adds a fourth attraction. It’s a plug-in hybrid in both the T6 and T8 Inscription (hybrid twin-engine technology) trims.
The last long-tenured American full-size wagons were family rooms on wheels, the Chevrolet Caprice and Buick Roadmaster. Decorated often in plastic and leather, long-haul comfort was the priority. Dodge reintroduced the station wagon with its Magnum, but its production ended in 2008 after only a four-year tenure.
2022 Volvo XC60: Redefines Station Wagons
The new breed of wagons includes international stalwarts — the Audi Allroad, Mercedes-Benz E Class All-Terrain, Subaru Outback and Volvo. Bulk and flash have been streamlined for an emphasis on luxury, versatility and far more advanced road dynamics. The long-gone predecessors were relatives in name only.
Updated inside and outside in late 2021, Volvo XC60 Recharge is also in competition with plug-in versions of the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5.
The T8 powertrain continues to serve as the wagon’s top powertrain. Its 2.0-liter engine produces 455 horsepower with its 312 horsepower direct-injected engine and 143 horsepower electric motor. Acceleration with its eight-speed automatic transmission from 0-60 miles per hour takes five seconds.
The larger electric larger battery pack boosts the marketed “extended range” to 35 miles. Fuel efficiency is a combined 28 miles per gallon, with premium fuel recommended. The hybrid-use calculation is rated at 63 MPGe.
While not a new generation, changes are plentiful. The grille, front bumper are wheel design are updated. The new interior is highlighted by Volvo’s “City Weave Textile” cloth upholstery, a first for the XC60. The upscale fabric is tightly interwoven and has the look and feel like it might also be used in expensive Scandinavian furniture.
Station Wagons Do Luxury Well
Standard equipment fits the simplicity of Swedish design, from the laminated panoramic moonroof to the easy-to-operate, intuitive navigation system.
Tech features include Google Assistant and Google Play functions and a four-year subscription to Google Automotive Services and Google Maps. Bluetooth connectivity, four USB-C ports and an inductive smartphone charging area are also standard.
The standard Harmon Kardon sound system is satisfactory; a 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system is a $3,200 upgrade. The Advance Package ($2,050) adds pilot-assist drive, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree surround view camera, a head-up display and an air cleaner feature.
Headlamp cleaners, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel are offered in the Climate Package ($695). A half-dozen, single-item upgrades, including an automatic tailgate ($200) and metallic paint ($750), help push the MSRP of $62,500 to $72,840.
The XC60 wagon has arguably the best shifter and shifting combination in the industry. Volvo uses Orrefors glass for its upscale shifter knob. It ideally matches the shifting mechanics, which is more finesse than shift. A slight flick prompts a gear change; aggressive shifting does nothing.
Station Wagons: Old Meets New With Volvo
The Volvo’s interior upgrades also include an improved infotainment system as well as better radar, camera and sensors to improve the driver-assistance systems.
With its 4,400-pound weight and manufacturer’s well-known solid build, the Volvo XC60 Recharge provides a smooth, quiet drive. It maneuvers with equal skill, another trait that makes Volvo enthusiasts into return buyers.
The restyled Volvo XC60 in all of its trims and engines isn’t the best vehicle for hauling suitcases like the monolithic wagons of yesteryear, but no new wagon does that.
But there’s plenty of room for modern-day alternatives. The Volvo has 63.3 total cubic feet of cargo space with the second row of seats down. It’s a wagon for today, with a nod to the past.